Two days before Spring Training was set to conclude last month, the Marlins' No. 1 prospect was standing in the on-deck circle when a teammate, swinging and whiffing on a changeup, lost control of his bat. It sailed directly into Yelich's right elbow, resulting in a deep bruise.
"If I was three feet to the left or the right, it would have missed me," said Yelich, who missed the season's first week as a result. "[Im]perfect place, [im]perfect time."
The 23rd overall pick in the 2010 Draft doesn't appear to be letting a little bad luck get him down. Batting third and playing center field for Class A Advanced Jupiter in Saturday's doubleheader, he went 4-for-7 with a walk, homering, tripling, doubling and singling.
The Hammerheads dropped the opener to Charlotte, 3-2, but Yelich lifted a 1-0 fastball -- "middle, away," he said -- from Stone Crabs starter Braulio Lara into the left-field seats.
"I was just looking for a good pitch. I didn't miss it," Yelich said. "Good to get the first one out of the way, then I can just relax. It's always good to get off to a good start."
Lara yielded two runs on four hits over 4 2/3 frames, walking four and striking out five. Jupiter counterpart Grant Dayton (0-3) allowed three unearned runs on two hits over four innings.
In the nightcap, a 7-3 Hammerheads victory, Yelich tripled off right-handed starter Wilking Rodriguez and doubled off of left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser.
Rodriguez (0-2) gave up six runs on five hits, including Isaac Galloway's two-run homer in the fourth, over four innings. Jupiter's Edgar Olmos also lasted four frames and allowed three runs on six hits.
Yelich is batting .474 (9-for-19) with five extra-base hits and seven walks in six games. He said he was particularly impressed with his early success against southpaws, Lara and Riefenhauser included.
"I hit righties really well; I hit lefties just alright," said Yelich, who entered 2012 with a .346 average (119-for-344) against righties and a .256 mark when facing lefties in his brief career. "I'm trying to slow things down and not try to do much."
The 20-year-old Thousand Oaks, Calif., native is not unfamiliar to big games. He collected 48 extra-base hits and 77 RBIs in 122 games at Class A Greensboro last season, then delivered a walk-off homer in Game 1 of the South Atlantic League semifinals. What does he hope to achieve this year?
"The ball doesn't travel as well in this league, but I just want to play well," he said. "We'll see where I stand after 140 games."